The huge number of travelers prompted transporters to hike their fares. Bus fares to up country areas have more than doubled. For example, transport fares to the northern Uganda route specifically to Gulu has increased to between Shillings 100,000 and 130,000 from Shillings 40, previously. Travelers to Elegu border post are paying Shillings 150,000.
The Government through the Ministry of Works and
Transport has discussed the exorbitant transport fares to different parts of
the country. Transport fares skyrocketed on Monday morning a
few hours after the president, Yoweri Museveni announced new COVID-19 measures to contain
the surge of infections.
The new measures included
the schools, closure of prayers houses and ban on inter-district travels for
the next 42 days. However, the president gave a three days window to allow
learners to return home before the ban on inter-district travel takes effect.
The president only made an exception for the Kampala Metropolitan Area that consists of Kampala city, Mukono
and Wakiso Districts.
The president’s directive triggered panic among
Ugandans fearing a full lockdown forcing thousands of Ugandans to flock to taxi
and bus parks to travel upcountry using the three days window. The huge number of
travellers prompted transporters to hike their fares. Bus fares to upcountry
areas have more than doubled.
transport fares to the northern Uganda route specifically to Gulu have increased
to between Shillings 100,000 and 130,000 from Shillings 40, previously.
Travellers to Elegu border post are paying Shillings 150,000.
Travellers to places such
as Ntungamo and Ibanda district are paying Shillings150, 000, Kanungu Shillings
180,000 and Mbarara Shillings 100,000 from Shillings 40,000 previously.
to Mbale, Bukedea, Ngora, Kumi and Soroti among others in Eastern Uganda have
also increased from between Shillings 35,000 and 40,000 to Shillings 100,000.
The high transport fares
prompted several travellers to spend the night in the bus park. Uganda Radio
Network has since learnt that the Works and Transport Ministry met in a crisis
meeting on Tuesday to chat away forward.
The former Minister of
Works in charge of transport, Joy Kabatsi described the situation as alarming,
saying Ministry of works official were in a meeting to forge away forward.
“My people are in a meeting, we don’t have a solution yet but it is a big
problem really. It is being discussed, and hopefully, it will be resolved,”
Kabatsi told URN in a phone interview.
The meeting later
resolved to lift the curfew restrictions on buses to allow travellers to head
home. The meeting, which also involved representatives from the Health and
Finance Ministry officials also resolved to engage the bus companies on the
fares and also source buses from government agencies like Uganda Prisons, Civil
Aviation Authority and Finance Ministry among others to transport students.
This is not the first time
travellers are failing to travel because of the president’s announcement.
In March last year, hundreds of people spent nights in bus and taxi parks over
the scarcity of vehicles following the announcement of the nationwide lockdown
as part of the Coronavirus containment measures.
More than 2000 desperate travellers spent a night
in bus and taxi parks due to the curfew restrictions. Transporters doubled
the transports fares. However, this time around the fares have more than
doubled. The transporters say the fares
are high because of increased demand and the need to compensate for the time
they will not be working.
Marvin Musoke, a booking clerk with Goglon Coaches
Bus Company, says the bus companies are trying to compensate for the 42 days
that they will not be working since they also need to survive. He also says
that the fares are high because they are operating at half capacity to comply with
the physical distancing requirement.
//Cue in: “We were given…
Cue out: …are not operating”//
A booking Clerk with Baby Coaches said that the fare
is simply high because of the demand. “The people are just so many,
but we have to social distance, and if you don’t, they impound your bus, so
that is why the charge is high,” he says.